As the resident nut butter enthusiast here at Sprudge, it’s my solemn duty to stay abreast of any legume- and/or spread-based news as it pertains to the world of coffee. I’ve seen espresso collabs, cinnamon curds, and foul-mouthed peanut butters (though the uncontested champion remains Lotus’s Biscoff spread) in my time as the goober governor. So what has piqued my peanut this time? Is it the death—and subsequent rebirth as a two-bit Baby Yoda knockoff—of a century-old brand mascot in a feeble attempt to go #viral? Absolutely not.
We’re here to talk about coffee… that’s made from peanuts… that tastes like coffee.
News of this strange brew came our way via the Virginia Pilot, right in the heart of the American peanut lands, and perhaps uncoincidentally from Suffolk, the “self-appointed caffeine capital of Virginia” due to Hill’s Brothers and Folger’s roasting facilities within the city limits. The peanut coffee goes by the name Virginia Gold and is the product of fifth-generation peanut farmer James Harrell, who came up with the idea six years ago.
“I was drinking coffee and smelling coffee right before harvest,” remembers Harrell, “and I said, ‘Why can’t you turn peanuts into coffee?’”
Why indeed. It took a few years for Harrell to get his methodologies down; turns out you need to remove the oils and roast to a dark brown in order to get anything coffee-ish. But the result, per the Pilot, both looks and tastes similar to the drink it is imitating. Virginia Gold comes pre-ground and “does indeed look very like ground coffee, with that same rich brown color and tight powder.” Flavor-wise, “it’s a bit like a smooth medium roast, though with none of the fruity aromas or acidic bite one expects from coffee. It’s nutty, but not nutty like peanuts are nutty — the roast takes over much of the flavor.”
Of the tasters tasked with Virginia Gold, the “snobby” third wave coffee drinkers said they liked it, while a chicory drinker stated they did not. Which, one on hand, chicory isn’t coffee so why would we listen to them, but on the other, peanut coffee isn’t coffee either, so maybe the chicory drinker knows better than any of us. It’s very complicated.
The benefits of peanut coffee over regular, according to Harrell is that his beverage has protein, no acid, is not a diuretic, and is farmed locally here in the U S of A. I’m not sure that lacking acidity is a good thing (it isn’t) or that being a diuretic is a bad thing (probably my second favorite thing about coffee), but sure, whatever helps you push your peanuts.
For those not going into anaphylaxis from merely reading this article, a 10-ounce bag of Virginia Gold runs just a cool $8.99 and comes in caffeinated and decaffeinated versions. For more information, visit Virginia Gold's official website.
Top image via Virginia Gold